Former Self-Defense Forces senior officers acting as chiefs of staff speak to Taku Otsuka, a Lower House member who is acting as defense minister in a simulation where there is an emergency in Taiwan, in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on Aug. 7. In the event of a Taiwan emergency, Naoki Matsuyama While China is increasing its military pressure around Taiwan, the former defense minister and former senior officers of the Self-Defense Forces simulated the country's response.
The simulation, hosted by the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, was conducted for two days through Aug. 7 at a time when China is conducting its large-scale military exercises.
The simulation was started last year to help create ideas for policy proposals. The event was planned for this year before the latest Chinese drills.
Several lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and former senior officers of the SDF attended a mock National Security Council meeting. Former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera acted as prime minister.
They looked at several scenarios on how the Japanese government would respond to the situation if the situation progressed from peacetime to a possible crisis in the region.
They set the simulation in 2027 and assumed that China and Taiwan are politically unstable, with growing public frustration in China over President Xi Jinping's regime and an intensifying independence movement in Taiwan.
Participants on Aug. 6 simulated a situation that escalates rapidly from a so-called gray zone that is neither a peacetime nor a contingency.
Under the scenario, many fishing boats from mainland China headed for the Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls but China claims, and collided with a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel.
In Taiwan, system failures and other problems occurred at banks and other organizations, while anti-government forces staged large-scale protests in Taipei. Then China launched missile attacks on Taiwan.
Each time a situation developed, participants held NSC meetings. They discussed when to call on the SDF.
They also simulated coordination efforts with the United States and staged meetings between foreign and defense ministers, as well as leaders.
The Senkaku contingency was recognized by the mock NSC as an armed attack against Japan.
It categorized the Taiwan contingency as an attack against a third party, threatening Japan's survival, which allows Japan to partially exercise the right of collective self-defense.
On the second day, participants discussed two scenarios: firstly, how to transport Japanese nationals, protect them and deal with evacuees, and secondly, how to respond to China's nuclear threat and its use of nuclear weapons.
The Defense Ministry asked the government to define the situation in the first scenario.
Onodera, acting as prime minister, said if Japan makes such a declaration, relations with China could collapse, making it hard for the Foreign Ministry to discuss the safe transport of Japanese nationals.
A key issue was how to evacuate Japanese nationals living abroad, Onodera told reporters after the event.
He said that the simulation will be discussed.